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Tag: Moshe Feiglin

The Switcharoo – New Party in the Making Threatens Biberman Union

Photo: Eyal Yitzhar Reuters

Yep, there is no rest for the wicked in Israeli politics. A little while ago Bibi was on top of the world. He annexed Kadima into a unity government lead by Shaul Mofaz by giving him the Vice Prime Minister “position”, a step that created the largest coalition in government in Israeli politics history (April 2012).

October 12, 2012 Moshe Kahlon a widely supported member of the Likud party and rising star, (as well as Minister of Communications and Minister of Welfare & Social Services), suddenly announced his retirement from politics. He was walked out with much fanfare, hugs kisses and warm wishes from Bibi who was actually, for his own agenda, sorry to see him go. What Bibi was worried about was the ever lurking, Moshe Feiglin. The pesky Manhigut Yehudit leading hardliner, ran against Bibi for the 2012 Likud leadership election in January 31 and received 23% of the vote.

October 25, 2012 Bibi, the Wiley Coyote that he is, announced the now infamous Biberman union (Bibi+Lieberman) of the Likud party and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu – merging to a single party Halikud Beiteinu that will premier in the coming elections Jan. 22, 2013.

“A joining of forces will give us the strength to defend Israel from military threats, and the strength to spearhead social and economic changes in the country,” he said.

The polls showed that the union would form a strong base of at least 30 electoral votes with the other parties, Kadima, Labour, Shas (religious), Yesh Atid (Lapid’s new gig) holding smaller less threatening portions.

BUT THEN, the switcharoo. Moshe Kahlon who earlier announced his political hiatus for the sake of making some of the mighty green (he got a job from one of the local tycoons) had a change of heart. Why? Maybe the Biberman move was too much for him, maybe he realized that leaving the political scene would mean that when he got back he would need to contend with Lieberman. But in any case, today the news is that he is running some polls. The Polls are good. They show that if he runs with Tzipi Livni’s Kadima (what’s left of it) they would get 27 electorals opposed with the 30 electorals the Biberman union would get (Halikud Beiteinu). Or alternatively, if he ran with Shelly Yachimovich and her Labour Party the total would be the same as Bibi and that is an interesting place to be.

People are concerned with the Biberman union. It smells bad, here is a little parody just on that (Hebrew)

Not So Fast Bibi

The polls were opened on Thursday for a Likud party vote. Party leader, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to change the Likud constitution so that internal party elections might be delayed up to the three years following general elections.

Bibi said:

“We are a national movement started by Menachem Begin; we are for the state and for the IDF and for true peace, and that is what we have to focus on…If the vote does not go as I want it to, we will have to dedicate months to an internal process in the Likud, and now is not the time to do that…I think most Likud members know that this isn’t the time.”

Isn’t it undemocratic, though, to change a party’s constitution in the middle of a term and in the midst of controversial issues crucial to the future of the state – giving up east Jerusalem?

Netanyahu said in his defense:

“In a democracy, there are legal and agreed-upon ways to make changes. We are one of the most organized and unified movements in the country; our way to do it is with a majority of two-thirds. Believe me – it is very, very difficult.”

Moshe Feiglin, the leader of Manhigut Yudit, a religious political faction accused Bibi during a radio interview of planning to sell-out Jerusalem:

“It seems that Netanyahu thinks that a true Likudnik would split up Jerusalem…This vote is about Jerusalem; not Feiglin, not Netanyahu…If, G-d forbid, his proposal will pass…there is nothing to stop Netanyahu from doing what Sharon did, only not in Gush Katif, but in Jerusalem.”

In addition Feiglin accused Bibi of cheating during the general elections:

“have you ever heard of elections without observers? With traveling voting booths?”

Bibi Postpones Likud Elections

At the request of Israeli Prime Minister and Likud party chairman, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Likud Central Committee postponed its own election date for another twenty months. This goes against the Likud constitution which mandates that the next committee elections be held on February 10th of this year.

It is clear what the thinking was behind the move. Netanyahu knows that if elections are held now, the committee will come out much farther to the right and perhaps angry about the settlement freeze.

Unfortunately for Bibi, the attempt to buy time has not gone unchallenged. Several central committee members have turned to the Tel Aviv district court to overrule the move. The matter will be brought up on January 25th.

Netanyahu held a meeting with Zvi Cohen, Chairman of the Likud’s Elections Committee, discussing various schemes to exclude the right wing, religious, Moshe Feiglin, who finished a strong third, with 12.5% of the vote, in the race for party leadership.

Feiglin was convicted of sedition in 1997 for his non-violent civil disobedience activities in the Zu Artzeinu (this is our land) movement. His position played a critical role in expressing popular opposition to the Oslo “peace process.” Feiglin and Shmuel Sackett, co-founder of the group, were sentenced to nine months imprisonment and one year on probation. They each served six months of their terms, respectively.

After his election as party chairman, Netanyahu promised to fight “criminal and negative” elements in the Likud, but it was unclear if he was referring to Feiglin, specifically.
Bibi was quoted as saying:

“There will not be room in our party for corruption and extremist lawbreaking,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction. “Our party will work to restore its image to the good old days of Menachem Begin…The path of integrity and clean hands must be returned.”

He went on to defend his opinion and define the Likud as a moderate party:

“We in the Likud made a peace agreement with Egypt, we supported the peace agreement with Jordan without reservation, and I as prime minister conducted successful negotiations with the Palestinians, signing a number of incremental agreements.”

Another Likud Rally Against the Freeze

Last month, September 9th, saw a much hyped, but much deflated Likud rally with a very confused message about whether Netanyahu was being strengthened or rebelled against by attendees of the rally. Nobody could really figure it out, which is why only about 200 showed up to the event in Likud headquarters that was looking to draw thousands. That, and some of the speakers at the event turned back, and others got mysteriously stuck in an elevator on their way up to speak.

danonThis time, a rally is being planned in the settlement of Revava, tomorrow, Oct. 6. It is being put together by Likud MK Danny Danon, who has lately been making waves as a potential leader of the hard right wing line of the party, which evidence suggests has been growing all the more dominant over the past two years.

The point of the rally will be to call upon Netanyahu to clarify his position on a settlement freeze. This seems like a good thing to demand, being that nobody really knows what in the world he’s thinking, nor ever seems to have a clue. There is a good reason for this. If he takes a real position on the issue, then he’ll anger somebody. So he can’t really say anything. So it’s doubtful Danon will inspire him to do so. But here’s to trying, eh?

“Please tell me whether due to Palestinian rejection, the freeze on construction has been canceled,” Danon wrote to Netanyahu. “Right now, the situation is unclear, so please explain the government’s position on the matter.” Netanyahu ignored his letter.

Recently, neoconservative columnist Daniel Pipes has mentioned Danny Danon in one of his columns as “up and coming.” If Pipes recognizes Danon as up and coming, then something might be up here. He has run for Likud chairman in the past, though only garnering a dismal 3.5%, trailing Netanyahu and Moshe Feiglin. My guess is he’ll do better in his next run.

Here’s my prediction with regard to up-and-comingness. For those who follow internal Likud politics, it should come as no surprise. The next race for the Likud throne will probably consist of the following candidates, mainly at least.

1) Danon, who is obviously setting himself up for a run by being so outspoken.
2) Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon, who also has been making waves lately, though the last few weeks he’s been fairly quiet.
3) Feiglin, who has run in every Likud election since 2000 and has promised to run in the next one as well.

There may be a smattering of others, but they will either drop out or get a negligible slice of the Likud pie. The big question is, will Bibi run again? The answer to that depends on how his government ends. If it runs full course, which is doubtful, chances are he probably will. If it falls and he looks bad, he may not. It depends on whether he even wants to have a third round as top man. And if he doesn’t, it looks like it’ll be a fight among those three, all of whom are substantially more right wing than the current sitting Prime Minister.

Will Vote-Buying Return to the Likud?

This is a translation from the front page article in today’s Ma’ariv newspaper. Apparently, Netanyahu is afraid of an internal coup within his own party, and he’s changing the rules of the game, yet again, in order to stave off opposition.
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Changes in the Likud Constitution that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s associates are suggesting would expand the number of party members and allow many of them to vote in the upcoming months – seemingly, with the purpose of strengthening Netanyahu’s position against his detractors.

MerkazThe Likud Knesset “Rebels” and Likud activists against the proposed building freeze in Judea and Samaria have been gathering signatures in the past few days in order to bring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan up for a vote in the Likud Central Committee. However, Netanyahu is aware that in the Likud Central Committee as well as among the party members, there is considerable representation for those who live in Judea and Samaria, as well as Moshe Feiglin’s people, the man of the Right. He’s interested in avoiding the type of confrontation that erupted between former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Central Committee during the period the Gaza Disengagement was approved. For this reason, the Prime Minister’s allies are today working in parallel to open the electorate and allow new members to join the Likud.

“If we don’t open the lines right now, Feiglin’s men could start to gain control of the local Likud branches,” a senior cabinet minister and Netanyahu associate said. “We are already very concerned that the Feiglinites will get control of the Jerusalem branch. If they succeed, the pressure on Knesset members will be enormous. Everybody starts thinking about his own primary campaign, and Netanyahu starts to lose control of the faction.”

The reason for the hubbub surrounding the size of the electorate is that elections for the Likud Congress, Central Committee, and party branches are around the corner. Netanyahu’s men intend to open it for a short period of 2 or 3 months, in that way ensuring a wide electorate. Additionally, they intend to temporarily nullify a chapter in the Likud Constitution that a party member may only vote in internal elections after 16 months of membership in the party. That way, Netanyahu’s men can bring new members into the party and dilute the influence of men from the Right, Feiglin, and the Judea and Samaria Council within Likud’s institutions.

They Don’t Belong

As of now, there are about 100,000 Likud members, and it is estimated that 15,000 of them belong to Feiglin and the settlement camp. The decision concerning the Constitutional changes and the cancellation of the 16 month “cooling period” are supposed to be brought for the approval of the Likud Central Committee, which is expected to convene immediately after the holidays in order to set the next elections for the Likud Congress. However, the Likud Secretariat is already convening this coming Thursday. According to several sources, the head of the Secretariat, Yisrael Katz, wants to pass a decision – even if its implication is only advisory – to cancel the clause requiring 16 months membership. Regardless, sources close to Katz are denying that there is any intention to do such a thing, and are reiterating that any change is up to the Central Committee.

Likud activist and member of the Secretariat Yitzhak Nimrodi, who began the campaign for the 16-month clause, said yesterday that Katz is deliberating with other members of the Secretariat to check their positions on the matter. “Where will they open up party membership? Only in poor neighborhoods where they can buy them off,” said Nimrodi, who initiated the clause back then in order to prevent the phenomenon of fictitious voters that blossomed in the days of Sharon. “These people, who don’t belong in the Likud, we won’t be seeing a single vote from them during elections.”

Knesset member Yariv Levine, who belongs to the so-called Likud “rebels,” sent a letter to Katz. “I know that they’re telling Netanyahu that this move will dilute the more ideological wing of the party, but in my opinion it is in his interest to oppose the move,” he said. “The 16-month law cleaned the Likud ranks from corruption.” Netanyahu’s associate, the senior government minister, said otherwise. “Whoever doesn’t support our move wants to be held captive to small interest groups. Those who oppose opening the voting ranks can’t explain it as anything other than a deal with Moshe Feiglin.

Ironically, the forces whose influence in the Likud Netanyahu’s men are currently trying to dilute are the same forces that led the campaign in the Central Committee for a referendum over the Disengagement. Netanyahu led the rebellion back then against Sharon, and enlisted all the political strength he could muster in order to bring the opponents of the Disengagement their victory in that referendum. But back then, Sharon decided to go forward without the Central Committee’s approval anyway.

OneJerusalem Exclusive: Vice Premier Bogey Ya’alon Meets with Moshe Feiglin & Followers

YaalonThe calm of the event and how normal it felt belied how unprecedented it actually was. The place was packed from front to back. There weren’t even enough chairs for everyone in attendance. Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon, Minister of Strategic Affairs and Vice PM, took time out of his day to sit down with a fringe group of Feiglinites working inside the Likud, and speak with them about his vision. Bogey showed guts in sitting down with Feiglin and his supporters since his boss, PM Netanyahu, is known to loathe this man, and fears him like the plague. To be caught sitting with Feiglin – you’ll take quite a media beating if you get caught. This may be why Feiglin sent no official word to the media about the event. Bogey’s lambasting of the Israeli media during his 40 minute speech to the group could have been another factor.

He spoke about Zionist history, about days past where hope was prevalent, about what he perceived as the failure of the Oslo Process, about how Israel thought that by giving up land she could get peace, about how there is no one to talk to on the other side and therefore negotiations are impossible for the time being. Basically, the standard Likud talk, agree with it or not. Though, with all due respect to Bogey, a true patriot and hero of the State of Israel who fought in every war since Yom Kippur of ’73, there was something missing. The frustration in the room was palpable. It was a frustration that I understood immediately: Moshe Ya’alon does not really understand who Feiglin is, why his following is growing, what he really stands for, or what he is trying to do. Like so many others, he thinks Moshe Feiglin is just another right winger in Likud with a big support base – a base he wants to get in with and win over, so repeating the standard Likud refrains will make them happy.

Moshe FeiglinKeep in mind that Moshe Feiglin is probably the strangest politician in Israel. He is quiet, doesn’t talk much, he’s always smiling for some reason, an almost eerie ambience of calm constantly surrounds him as his rail-thin body slowly sways through a room, and he just won’t leave the Likud no matter how hard his enemies attack him. The man operates, and has always operated on the fringe. His house sits at the very end of his block, at the edge of a hill. When he walks into his Synagogue on Shabbat mornings, he sits at the end of the row. And aside from people constantly approaching him and starting conversations, asking questions and the like, he doesn’t hang around to schmooze up the crowd after services. Instead, he heads straight home, a quiet introvert, back to his house at the very end of the block, back to his wife and children.

At the meeting, Bogey spoke about how peace is impossible for now, since the other side has not recognized Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. What he seemed to miss, however, is that to Feiglin, this is completely irrelevant. Whether the other side is ready for peace, willing to make compromises or anything else, plays no role in Feiglin’s thought. “Peace is not my objective,” he replied to Bogey. He continued, “There is no country on the entire planet, except us, that has peace as its national objective. The minute that peace is your national objective, you lose it.” The Zionism of old doesn’t interest him either. “Zionism has reached the end of its road,” he says. “It is time for the next level – the one based on faith and the God of Israel. If we don’t build the second level, we will lose the whole thing.”

Then what is Feiglin trying to do? He wants nothing less than a total revolution at the core of Israel’s consciousness, to redefine the purpose of her existence, to change everything at the very core, and he wants to do this by winning the Likud leadership, and then the leadership of Israel. The objective of peace, according to him, demonstrates that Israel’s current leaders want her to be a nation among nations, to simply be left alone to her own development, to live without having to launch a defense war every 3 years. Feiglin’s idea is much more basic than an absence of conflict. It is to be a uniquely Jewish nation through a national Jewish revival. Not a religious revival, as he is against coercive religious legislation and is actually a proponent of civil marriage, for example. He even wants to see the end of religious parties entirely and the entire National Camp in the Likud.

Jewish revival, for him, begins with the most basic common denominator – Jewish identity. With the sectoral mentality prevalent among pretty much every Israeli today, this type of unity is impossible. This is why operating within the Likud is much more than just a simple tactic for him and his followers. It is, rather, a statement of taking responsibility for the leadership and future of the country and the Jewish people, rather than the leadership of a sectoral party and the funding of your sector’s economic welfare.

Whether Feiglin will succeed in taking over the Likud is anyone’s guess. He began with 3% of the Likud vote in 2002, 12% in 2005, and 24% in 2007. He is constantly recruiting new Likud members for this purpose, swelling his support base in the party. If he actually does it, then whether the country as a whole is ready for someone like him is a totally open question. But his fight and doggedness in not backing down despite any challenge, fair or unfair from Netanyahu and the Likud leadership, reminds me of a quote from the movie the Terminator.

“He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever.”

This is something his political rivals should take to heart, and Bogey’s arrival at Feiglin headquarters just brought him one step closer to his objective. So if you want the status quo to keep stable, if you don’t want things to change too radically too quickly, then Feiglin is the man to fear. And what happened last night should be cause for alarm, because if history has proven anything, it has proven this. Revolutionary leadership – it always begins on the fringe.

Moshe Feiglin Receives Extra Attention These Days

Due to the Likud primaries (that happened just two days ago), Moshe Feiglin is now receiving much more media attention than he deserves.

Who is he?

Feiglin is considered a radical right-wing politician, and he is a self-confessed racist.

This is what Feiglin said in a 1995 interview, translated to English:

There’s no doubt that Judaism is racist in a sense, and when the UN determined that Zionism is a racist movement, I didn’t find any point in objecting. If you understand racism as a blood distinction — and this is a very primitive distinction — then you have to claim that Zionism is racist (…) There is no Palestinian nation. There’s only an Arab-speaking public, that suddenly recognized itself as a nation, a negative of the Zionist movement; parasites. The fact they haven’t done it beforehand only proves how inferior they are. In Africa there are no nations as well. Only a Zulu tribe, a Tutsi tribe.

Today Feiglin has an undeniable amount of power within the Likud party, although not as much as he could have had if Binyamin Netanyahu hadn’t declared an all-out political war with him.

Considering the fact that all estimates point at the Likud as being the next ruling party, Feiglin’s rising popularity is a room for concern.

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